N.S. government, union open to talks with Acadian Lines

The union representing about 120 Acadian Lines employees says it is willing to work with the company to keep the bus service running in the Maritimes.

Industry advocate says 2012 has not been a good year for public transportation

Acadian Lines has announced it will shut down operations in the Maritimes by the end of the year. (CBC)

Nova Scotia's provincial government and the union representing 120 Acadian Line workers say they are willing to talk to the inter-provincial bus company to keep the service running in the Maritimes.

Acadian Lines announced Tuesday that it would cease operations in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and P.E.I. by the end of November. The company said it has been losing money on the operations for several years.

Nova Scotia's Minister of Transportation, Maurice Smith, said he's disappointed with Acadian Line's decision.

"It is early days. I'm not sure yet, you know, what the appropriate approach will be. They haven't come to us, but certainly we would be looking at it as a vital service and seeing how it can be supported if we can do that in any way," Smith said.

"Important as well, as we have to deal with our counterparts in New Brunswick and P.E.I., and it would be best I think to have a united position on this."

Smith joins the workers' union in trying to save viable routes.

Scott Webber, president of CAW local 725, said the company might be able to survive if provincial governments will allow it to modify the service it provides.

"Our biggest problem is that we know of is they're not letting the company change some of the runs that they wish to change, which is costing them money," he said.

"We've got runs that we're running two and three people on the road. You can't afford to keep a bus on the road when you've only go two or three passengers."

Many of the runs that are sparsely populated are located in Northern New Brunswick, he said. Webber said he hopes government will step in.

Denis Gallant, vice-president of Acadian Lines in the Maritimes, said the company has been asking the provincial governments of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to allow it to change the routes, but has had no luck.

Ted Bartlett, vice-president of Transport Action Atlantic, says all three provincial governments need to work together if they want to keep Acadian Lines in the Maritimes.

"The time has come now for the provinces who have responsibility for inter-city motor transportation to get together and come up with a solution to provide some sort of replacement transportation for the disenfranchised," he said.

The transportation advocate says 2012 has not been a good year for transportation, citing the transit strike in Halifax, a continuing lockout at Codiac Transpo in Moncton, planned Via Rail cuts across the Maritimes, and now the Acadian Lines closure.